Women’s rights and gender apartheid in Afghanistan in the spotlight

The speakers discussed the mobilisation of international law to address the situation of women in Afghanistan.

The Max Planck Foundation’s most recent webinar on 20 September 2023 turned the attention to the legal and practical challenges to address women’s rights violations in Afghanistan.

Hosted within the framework of the Foundation’s Afghanistan Legal Research Network (ALRN), this month’s distinguished speakers included Professor Karima Bennoune, former UN Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, as well as international legal researcher Azadah Raz Mohammad and women’s rights defender Negina Yari.

Prof Bennoune argued a case for the recognition of gender apartheid as a crime under international law, discerning parallels between racial and gender segregation and situating her reasoning in a broader context shaped also by the colonial encounter.

The speakers then jointly explored the capacity of the existing international legal framework to capture the wrongs inflicted upon Afghan women and girls as crimes against humanity. Discussion zoomed in both on legal and practical opportunities and obstacles to foster accountability for violations. Special emphasis was placed on the complementarity of the various avenues for redress and the particular significance of local voices and agency in the process of amelioration.

The webinar concluded with a lively and open discussion during which participants engaged the speakers with their questions.

The webinar was part of a series of the project ‘Civil Society and the Rule of Law in Afghanistan’ , supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.